Fail fast, fail small and fail often — what I learned from presenting our startup “F*** Ups”

Jun 17, 2016 · 4 min read

By Jack Hooper, Co-Founder and Commercial Director at doppel

Two years ago, along with three other founders, I started a business. It was something none of us had ever done before and we have been learning as we go.

Needless to say, we have made plenty of mistakes along the way and this month, I stood in front of a crowd of three hundred people in Budapest and presented three of our finest failures for their enjoyment.

Believe it or not, this was not something I was made to do, I volunteered. It’s not something I had ever done before and, to be candid, it was pretty scary. But it was also liberating and thought provoking at the same time.

To give some background, F*** Up Nights are volunteer run evenings where all sorts of people (not just entrepreneurs) gather together to tell the tales of where they’ve gone wrong and the lessons they learned. They’re supposed to be funny and fun — and to let people know that it’s okay to fail.

It’s a great idea, and despite my initial worries, I’m so glad we were involved! Perhaps inspired by the fact that people laughed with me, and not at me, I decided to share the three failures I presented here.

1. Calling our company Team Turquoise

2. Registering the company with the wrong director

3. Losing most of a €150,000 grant — which at the time was the largest amount of money our company had ever seen

But the company still exists! These failures didn’t leave us prospectively re-writing our CVs. So what did we learn?

Well, with distance, number one and number two are now pretty funny. We’ve since moved away from Team Turquoise, and are now trading as doppel. This is easier to spell, easier to search for, and works much better for our international customers. We did also manage, eventually, to correct our registration with Companies House — although I wouldn’t recommend making this mistake to anyone, as it was not easy.

Number three is still pretty painful to remember because to a pre-money startup, €150,000 is life changing. However, we have learnt to communicate better, not only with our grant funders, but also with our investors, supporters and customers. Starting a business can be scary, but by keeping each supporter, backer, customer, adviser and investor in the loop, you can begin to create a community which is great both for the company, and for your sanity.

So in conclusion, it is a fantastic experience to present your errors. It makes you comfortable with them and ensures you understand what to take from them. At doppel we are all doing something that we have never done before and so we constantly make small mistakes. In fact, it sometimes feels like if we fail it will be a death by one thousand small errs rather than the one big disaster. The important point is that we are being trained through experience that we have to handle these f***ups in a constructive way. I have faith we will be able to deal with any future ones because we have had the practice. So my advice is to fail fast, fail small and fail often — if you do it right, it might not even feel like failing at all.

If you’re interested in finding out more, we write about our company journey on our blog.


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doppel has been shown to reduce stress and increase focus. Its natural effect works within moments. Posts by Co-Founders Jack, Nell, Andreas and Fotini.